Walnut Grove Park Singletrack Improvements

Project Details

  • Location

    • 202 N Westfield Rd.
      Madison, WI 53717
  • Estimated Schedule

  • Impact

  • Alder District

    District 9

43.06942, -89.511843

Project Information

Project update as of August, 2022:

Project is currently on hold pending further evaluation.

A public meeting was held virtually on May 5th, 2022 and 5:30pm.  A natural surface trail was proposed by Parks staff and discussed at the meeting.  Input was gathered both in support and in opposition to the trail from the public meeting and via phone and email.  To summarize comments and questions from the public engagement process, see the below Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ's).  Because of the volume of questions and comments, the project is currently on hold pending further evaluation.  Parks plans on revisiting this trail and site in the future for possible construction.  When Parks is ready to discuss this possibility again, they will inform the neighbors, the neighborhood associations, and the alder well in advance and host a rigorous public engagement process.


The project sounds great and will be a needed amenity to the Park and trail system.  What more can I do?
     - Stay tuned to this project page for further updates.  In the meantime be on the lookout for other single-track projects completed in our system such as the Cannonball Singletrack, Aldo Leopold Pump track, and others coming soon!

I support building more natural surface trails in the city and I'm wondering why Walnut Grove Park was chosen.  Could trail be built somewhere else instead?
     - Maybe.  Other sites are being evaluated for trails.  Parks will comment on other potential sites once other area sites are evaluated.
        Parks goal is to build "More Trail Close to Home."  That means that every resident would have the opportunity to ride their bike to a trail instead of needing to drive.  Walnut Grove has a unique combination of factors that make it a good side on Madison's west side.
                1.  It is close to many homes, schools, and residential units meaning more access for people nearby
                2.  It's connected to the on-street bike path network with bike lanes on Westfield Rd
                3. It has rolling wooded topography meaning the trail would be sheltered from the sun and rain and would allow good drainage
                4. It has only one existing park path that would need to be crossed
                5. It could accommodate the minimum desired trail length of 1 mile
                6. Trail could be built without significant or valuable tree removals

I'm worried about potential user conflicts with people on the paved path, could the trail be modified so that it doesn't cross any existing path?
Maybe, Parks is evaluating this option

I'm worried people will ride dirt bikes or motorcycles on the trail that would be fast, loud, and dangerous
- No, the trail would be open to only "pedal bikes" and pedestrian traffic.  The trail is built to limit rider speed and encourage progressive skill building to let riders choose the risk level they are comfortable with

What if people don't follow the rules or are rude to other park users?
       - This is a possibility with any park amenity like courts, playgrounds, or paved paths.  If rule-breaking becomes a problem, additional solutions will be evaluated.

Isn't off-road biking dangerous?  I'm worried someone might get hurt.
      - Most outdoor play activities carry some degree of risk.  People occasionally get injured doing a variety of outdoor sports.  Care is taken to build trail in a way that clearly communicates risk and allows people to choose a level that suits their skills.

I'm interested in seeing some trail that's similar to what's being proposed at Walnut Grove.  Has this been done anywhere else where I can go and see an example?
       - Yes.  Over 50 miles of natural surface trails exist in Dane County.  Many have been in use at Dane County Parks and City of Fitchburg and Middleton for over 20 years.  The best example of a multi use trail system is probably Cam Rock Park run by Dane County in Rockdale, WI. 

Who would use a trail like this?  Why is it needed?
     -  Mountain biking has been a growing sport in our area for several decades.  While our neighboring communities in Dane County have developed trail, Madison has fallen behind.  Residents of all ages and abilities have engaged Madison Parks for years on the need to provide a natural surface trail experience.  Perhaps the the fastest growth of users comes from the Madison NICA program in Madison which has an enrollment of over 800 students and family members and continues to grow each year. 

The Parks Division is proposing to construct a 1 mile section of bike optimized single track trail in Walnut Grove Park in 2022 or 2023. This trail was first identified for construction with the MadBAT planning project in 2020 and the proposed trail will run on the perimeter of Walnut Grove Park. Parks has hired IMBA Trail Solutions to serve as the design consultant on the project and project planning is currently underway.

Trail construction could best be described as Mountain Bike Optimized (MBO) Natural Surface Trail.

MBO Natural Surface Trail builds on Traditional Trail but uses rolling contour and lift and tilt design and construction methods. It uses a medium frequency of rollers, berms and table top and rollable gap jumps throughout construction with optional ride-around routes for each feature. The tread will be a natural surface constructed out of native materials such as dirt, stone, and wood. MBO trail also utilizes Technical Trail Features (TTF's) . TTF's are pre-manufactured items constructed by a bike park feature manufacturer. These can include elevated trail, berms, and jumps with wood decking. All TTF's include an option to ride around the feature.

This project will not impact any existing field, court, playground or other use within Walnut Grove Park. It will cross the paved walking path twice. At both locations, the path is located in an open field and sight distances are such that both people walking and riding bikes will have the ability to see each other and react accordingly. In addition, design precautions will be taken to slow or stop the bike traffic at the crossings.

All disturbed areas not part of the final trail tread will be restored with a mix of native vegetation including a "short prairie" seed mix.

There are proposed tree removals as part of this project. Parks and Forestry Arborist staff evaluated all trees in and around the trail corridor. Several trees were identified for removal due to condition and safety concerns. This includes trees that are already dead, partially dead, contain structural defects such as holes or decay and pose a safety concern. There are also invasive species such as honeysuckle and buckthorn within the trail corridor that are proposed for removal. No mature healthy trees are proposed to be removed and all trees to remain are to be protected during construction. Care will be taken to protect all mature healthy trees during and after construction in accordance with the City's tree protection and "No Root Cut" policy.

Trail Users and Rules
The proposed trail will be open to all non-motorized vehicles. This includes bicycles, walkers, hikers, and trail runners. The trail will be open during normal park hours as long as the trail tread is dry. If people are leaving footprints or ruts in the dirt, it's best practice to stay off until the surface can dry. The trail will not have lights.

The proposed trail will cross the existing paved walking path at two locations and a hiking/walking trail near the park shelter once. At these locations, natural trail features such as boulders will be installed to slow riders as they approach the intersection. This allows a controlled crossing where both trail users have adequate visibility in all directions and can make appropriate adjustments.

Public Informational Meeting:
An online project kick-off meeting was held on:

Thursday, May 5, 2022, @ 5:30 pm.
Parks staff made a short presentation followed by a comment and question session.

If you were unable to attend and would like to comment on the project, please contact Madison Parks at parks@cityofmadison.com

Below is a concept plan for the trail alignment:

Walnut Grove
Walnut Grove Single Track


A section of typical trail- City of Middleton


Wooden skill Technical Trail Feature

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